Kerry students attend European Youth Event

A couple of weeks ago Currow teenager, Eimear Horgan was preparing to take part in the European Youth Event (EYE) which took place in the European Parliament in Strasbourg from 20-21 May.

The St. Joseph’s Presentation Secondary, Castleisland student did just that with a group of fellow students from around the county and beyond. The proverbial ball was had by all – but there’s more.

 Kerry Comhairle na nÓg is one of 31 youth councils in the country, which give children and young people the opportunity to be involved in the development of local services and policies and supported by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

No Voting Mechanism

In light of the fact that Comhairle na nÓg is for young people under the age of 18 and who therefore have no other voting mechanism to have their voice heard, Comhairle is designed to enable young people to have a voice on the services, policies and issues that affect them in their local areas

 Kerry Comhairle na nÓg is co-ordinated by Kerry County Council and the work programme is managed by the Kerry Diocesan Youth Service. It is a youth-led initiative that has around 60 members spread throughout the county.

They meet in sub-committees in Killarney, Listowel, Tralee and Caherciveen as well as the large group meeting every two months in Tralee. Recent topics that the Comhairle have taken on include mental health, plus drug and alcohol awareness.

In terms of mental health the young people organised a mental health first aid training course for teachers and youth workers, and they also organised a colour run on Banna Beach to promote positive mental health.

Hugs Not Drugs

For their drugs and alcohol topic they designed and developed ‘Hugs not Drugs’ wristbands, ran information stands in their schools, helped launch an information booklet and made a DVD with signposting information to help services.

 This year the Kerry Comhairle na nÓg was invited by Sean Kelly MEP to attend the European Youth Event (EYE) which took place in the European Parliament in Strasbourg from 20-21 May. It was a unique opportunity for thousands of young Europeans to make their voices heard.

 During the event, they exchanged ideas and perspectives on youth-related issues, developed innovative solutions to crucial questions for the future and met with European decision-makers and speakers with a wide range of professional experience.

 At the same time the EYE provided an opportunity to experience the rich cultural diversity within the European Union through the staging of various artistic performances and spectacles.

Follow-up Report

 As follow-up, a report with the ideas discussed during the event will be made available to all members of the European Parliament. As well, former EYE participants will have the opportunity to present the most concrete ideas produced by young people to a number of parliamentary committees and receive feedbacks from Members.

 The students who travelled to the EYE are as follows: Barry Sugrue – Gaelcholáiste; Eoghan O’Donnell – Gaelcholáiste; Eimear Horgan – St. Joseph’s Presentation Secondary, Castleisland; Collette O’Shea – Coláiste na Sceilge; Atlanta Kennedy – Mercy Mounthawk; Erin Fitzgibbon – Mercy Mounthawk; Aisha Lawal – Presentation Secondary, Tralee and Sinead Leen – Mercy Mounthawk.

Quotes from the participating students:

“It was a life changing experience and I’d love to go again.” Aisha Lawal – Presentation Secondary School, Tralee.

“It is nice to see now that Gaeilge/the Irish language is now a recognised and used language of the European Union.” Barry Sugrue – Gaelcholaiste

“This opportunity opened my eyes to everything that is happening in the world around us and people’s opinions on how we can all make the world a better place,” Eimear Horgan – St. Joseph’s Presentation Secondary, Castleisland. 

“This experience made me realise that young people in Europe do have a say in the future of Europe and all the important decisions that are being made.  The events that we have attended were very informative and help me understand more about the Europe we are living in today.  Strasburg city were very welcoming to all the young people of Europe and made it easier for us to settle in,” Sinead Leen – Mercy Mounthawk

“Very informative and enjoyable experience, would go again. An amazing opportunity to make new friends and a difference in the future of Europe” Collette O’Shea – Colaiste na Sceilge

“Bhí me an bhródúil chun amach go raibh Gaeilge mar teanga príomhúil san Aontais Eoirpach agus bíonn sé in usáid go rialta,” Barra Ó Siochrá – Gaelchoilaiste